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Silicon Valley Employment Law Blog

When an EEOC claim gets tossed aside

Those who work in the state of California want to be treated fairly while on the job. When that does not happen, they want to believe that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will have their backs. According to a recently published article, that does not seem to be the case. What can one do when his or her EEOC claim gets tossed aside?

When the EEOC receives a claim, it is supposed to investigate the matter. Its sole job is to protect the rights of employees and ensure that they work in discrimination-free environments. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, the department is severely short-staffed and has been unable to investigate all claims received. The EEOC says it is only taking more significant cases right now and is closing a lot of claims without performing investigations. 

Mattel facing wrongful termination and age discrimination claims

When fired from a job, it is normal and okay to question the reason behind it. If something about it seems off or not entirely legal, one might be able to take specific actions with the hopes of seeking compensation for any resulting losses. Recently, a California man did just that when he filed wrongful termination and age discrimination claims -- among others -- against Mattel.

According to reports, a 71-year-old male filed claims against his former employer after he, at the age of 70, was written up and fired. He had worked for Mattel since 1968 and, until his few months with the company, had never been in trouble or caused trouble while on the job. In March 2018, Mattel began a round of layoffs. Those let go from the company, the plaintiff claims, were all on the older side.

Wrongful termination: Arbitration and court involvement

When California residents think about arbitration, the words "court involvement" do not typically come to mind. Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution method, meant to keep cases from being litigated. Recently, though, a case in another state has made headlines as a federal judge is asking for arbitration updates in a wrongful termination case.

A former manager for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel filed a lawsuit against the company after he was terminated in the fall of 2013. He initially started out as a PBX Manager, but that position was later eliminated. He was moved to another department, and after nearly a decade of service, he was written up for poor job performance and fired. The plaintiff believes his age was behind the termination, as the company has allegedly sought to rid itself of older employees. The plaintiff was 53 years old when he was let go.

Numerous caregivers are receiving unfair employment compensation

There are many people living in California who have come here from other countries looking for a better life. Unfortunately, a lot of them find that they are not treated fairly in the workplace, particularly when it comes to their employment compensation. In recent years, numerous caregivers in the state have come forward with complaints of being victims of wage and hour violations. Some have won their cases, leaving their employers responsible for issuing back pay and having to pay fines for various workplace offenses.

According to a recently released article, many caregivers at nursing homes and other care facilities are only receiving, on average, $2 an hour -- far below the federal minimum. Most of them are required to work well over the traditional 40 hour work week. Some of them have to pay their employers lodging fees, and there are those who are also responsible for paying their substitutes if they wish to have a day off.

Employment contract dispute: Video game workers want a union

Employees across industries in California want to trust that their company has their best interests in mind. They understand that turning a profit is part of any business, although there are certain industries where workers feel coerced into working overtime with no extra pay. The video game development industry is reportedly a perfect example of this. One large company, Riot Games, is now facing an employment contract dispute over what former employees say was unfair treatment, and workers are wondering if unionizing will prevent this kind of abuse of power.

Employees of Riot Games say that they often felt pressured into not standing up for themselves, due to the high demand to work in their chosen field. They were made to sign forced arbitration agreements before being hired by the company, which stated that employees could not sue the company, but would have to resolve any disputes through negotiations led by company representatives. Opponents of forced arbitration say that it contributes to a hostile work environment, particularly for women, who are underrepresented in the video game development industry. People have less means to fight against workplace discrimination with contract clauses like these.

Discrimination case filed against Amazon

Three women in another state recently filed legal claims against Amazon for poor treatment in the workplace. These women claim to be victims of racial and religious discrimination. They also claim that reporting the discrimination resulted in retaliation in the workplace. Whether one resides in California or elsewhere, if discrimination of any form is happening at one's place of work, one may have legal recourse.

According to a recently published report, the three women, who are Muslim Somali, have claimed that they are given harder assignments than their white co-workers and feared being written up for taking breaks to pray. They have also claimed that white workers are given special consideration when promotions become available. The plaintiffs joined a rally in Dec. 2018 in an effort to bring the poor labor conditions to light. They assert that doing so resulted in them receiving retaliatory treatment from their superiors and other staff. They are seeking unspecified damages.

Utilizing ADR methods to resolve an employment contract dispute

California residents often put up with a lot for the sake of their careers. If asked to sign an employment contract, down the line you may find yourself needing to get out of it or dealing with a breach of contract issue -- among other things. You may think that litigation is in your future, but when dealing with an employment contract dispute, alternative methods to resolve it may be available to you.

Alternative dispute resolution methods exist to keep certain matters out of court. Sometimes, talking things out or having a neutral third party weigh in on the situation is all that is needed to reach a resolution quickly and quietly. Two of the most commonly used ADR methods are mediation and arbitration. Mediation involves negotiating settlement terms with the assistance of a mediator. Arbitration, on the other hand, is basically an informal trial process where each party presents his or her case and an arbitrator issues a ruling.

Woman wants her employment discrimination case to go to trial

Many women in California and around the country find themselves being passed over for promotions at work because they have children, while men -- also with children -- are given the positions that their female counterparts are more qualified to take. Despite advancements women have made to be treated fairly, gender-related employment discrimination is, unfortunately, very real and still a big issue today. In fact, a story was recently published about a woman who worked for PayPal for almost 12 years before being fired after filing a discrimination complaint with her employer. She believes that she is a victim of gender discrimination and has filed a lawsuit against PayPal.

According to a report, in 2017, the woman inquired about a new position that would require her to travel out of the country quite frequently. She wanted the position because she had worked on the startup of this particular project years prior and had no issue with the travel requirement. The vice president she talked to allegedly said she would be a good fit for the position. Ultimately, though, she was never interviewed for the job. Instead, it went to a male co-worker -- someone she hired and trained -- who had less experience and time with the company,and also had a young child at home with plans to expand his family.

Employment compensation has to live up to government standards

Numerous California residents probably feel that they are undervalued at work due to the poor level of compensation that they receive. Some of these individuals' employers are meeting government standards when it comes to paying staff, so there is not a lot they can do about it other than request pay raises. Then there are those whose employers are not providing employment compensation that lives up to government standards. When that happens, there is something the affected employees can do about it.

Recently, it was reported that a restaurant in another state was found in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to keep adequate records of employee hours worked. Restaurant owners were also found to be paying staff well below the federal minimum wage requirement. The employer has since been ordered to pay eight employees back pay to the tune of nearly $80,000.

Was your termination a wrongful termination?

California residents who are doing all that they can at work, only to find themselves fired, have to wonder what exactly went wrong. Employers have the right to terminate employees as they see fit, unless an employment contract is in place, but there are some reasons why they cannot. Those who believe that the following issues contributed to their firings may be entitled to file wrongful termination claims in an effort to seek compensation for their losses.

Reason number one: harassment. Employees have the right to work in an environment free from harassment. They also have the right to report harassment in the workplace to their superiors and expect proper action to be taken. Unfortunately, some victims of harassment have found themselves being let go instead. If it is possible to establish that one was harassed in the workplace and that it contributed to one's firing, a wrongful termination case may be successfully won.

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